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It is a great thing to get saved;—it is much greater to keep saved. Many lose communion with God by compromising with sin—many more by losing their love and becoming harsh and uncharitable. In the same breath in which we are commanded to “follow holiness without which no man shall see the Lord” we are charged to look

diligently, lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.”—Heb. 12:15.

These “roots of bitterness” are troublesome things. What trouble they make in the Conference, and in the Church, especially if there is a strong, leading spirit nourished by the root. There is almost no end to the mischief it can make. It brings in a spirit of division, it instigates to church trials, it stirs up a hasty spirit it breaks up societies and ruins souls. As alcohol, the bane of our race, is extracted from grain from which the bread of our race is made, so this “root of bitterness” is a perversion of holiness without which no one can be saved. To discern it one must look diligently. Much that passes for the fruit of holiness grows upon this root of bitterness. It produces many sermons, and exhortations, and articles for the papers which claim to be inspired by the Holy Spirit. From knowing that what goes into a building is suitable for food you cannot decide that what comes out is good to nourish human beings. The grain may come out flour for bread; or it may come out liquid hell-fire. It depends upon whether there is a mill or a still inside. So what one gets out of a text depends upon what there is in the heart. If there is love, the severest words will be seasoned with tenderness. They may be sharper than a two-edged sword; but, to the honest soul that is wounded, there comes the oil of joy for mourning.

But if, instead of love within there is the root of bitterness the words will drive rather than draw; the arrow may be well aimed; but it will leave a poisoned wound which refuses to be healed. Those who come under the influence of this root of bitterness become less kind, less amiable, than they were before they professed holiness. Those who live in love may stir up enmity, but their enemies are drawn to them in spite of themselves.

It is not enough that we are zealous, and our zeal is successful in making converts. What is the character of our converts? Are they filled with that love of God which leads them to keep His commandments?

For this is the love of God that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.”—1 John 5:3.

Or, on the contrary, are they conformed to this world? If not, if they are simple and plain, are they bitter in their spirit and denunciatory in their tone?

Christ said of the Pharisees,

Ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him two-fold more the child of hell than yourselves.”—Matt. 23:15.

We must see to it that we are not of that sort, and that our converts are not of that sort. Zeal and success in making converts and in getting them into the church are not evidence that those who have the zeal and meet with the success are children of God. Both those who lead and those who follow may be blind. The church and the world greatly need those who can and will do true work for God. Many who seem willing to do it are not in a spiritual condition to do it. They are either too complaisant or too bitter. Their converts are either baptized worldlings or self-complacent bigots.

Who will have true charity and will do faithful work for God?

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